Goonhammer Interviews the Top 3 Kill Team Players from the Las Vegas Open

This weekend saw the 2023 ITC season come to a close at the incredible spectacle that is FLG’s Las Vegas Open. With more than 130 competitive players on BCP and nine rounds of competitive play, the LVO Kill Team event represents one of the largest Kill Team events in the world and will typically decide who finishes first in the ITC’s Kill Team Circuit. In fact, that happened this year – the worldwide #1 was literally decided at this year’s event, and we’ll address that today along with a bevy of tips and tricks from the event’s top players.

As for my own experiences and run, I’ll be recapping those at a later date, but today let’s focus on the overall LVO meta and then hop into our player interviews.

Team Styles of LVO’s 130+ players

We’ve elected to mix together factions into broader strategic categories, as the number of factions in Kill Team has become pretty large. For our purposes Hordes are any teams with 12 or more operatives, while elites are 6-7. “Mini elites” 8-9, and 10-wides are fairly obvious. First off, let’s point out that it seems that Kill Team players still enjoy their elites, with those teams representing 25% of the meta. That said, the stats are a fair bit grimmer when we head towards the top 8, where no elites made the top cut.

LVO’s top 8

Despite some changes in the Q4 Dataslate, it appears those did little to stymie Kommandos and their capabilities on the top tables. While Orks now need to play a full game on open layouts, they remain strong, and their ITD power levels are as high as they ever were. The big surprise in the top 8 here is Jeremy Carnucci taking 8th place; he spent the weekend flexing between oops-all-genestealers and the 5-3 mini-elite split. You might notice that the top 8 seems quite melee-centric, and that’s likely a result of the terrain – the event’s Open boards were quite dense. With heavy covering many of the objectives, reducing chances for ranged teams that required set up.

(Note from Dakotah: From top 12 teams at LVO, a more balanced representation emerges, with 50% being shooting teams such as Vet guard, Novitiates, and Wyrmblade. While also feeling like his boards are less dense than I am purporting. Terrain packet here if you want to judge for yourself!)

To talk about the boards for LVO we’re bringing in Dakotah, the head TO himself. He spent the better part of 2023 designing boards for ITD and Open. With his asymmetric ITD boards being a big hit throughout the weekend, see them here (link). Along with seeing how he feels running the world’s largest Kill Team tournament to date!

LVO’s Best Painted Credit:@conjureworlds

Dakotah L, Tournament Organizer, Squad Games

How does it feel to run the largest Kill Team tournament to date? Are you taking some time to bask in the glory, or is it back to work for next year’s LVO already?

  • I took one day off, only because I didn’t want to unload the trailer in the rain. Today its straight back to work. I would love to take a few days off, but I can’t due a fire with our brand new laser. It caught fire the Sunday before LVO. It was really tragic to say the least. In order to get back on track I have a lot of work to do. (authors note: Dakotah has really been having the worst luck with this being the fourth or so fire in the last few months link here to see the struggle)
  • Last year, we may have waited too long to start prepping for LVO. So, this time, we plan to start much earlier in the year. We’re excited about the possibility of breaking 200 participants next year!!

LVO’s top tables had chess clock rules in full effect. What were the pitfalls you were worried about with their implementation, and how did they play out? Positively, negatively, or neutral?

  • Implementing chess clock rules at LVO’s top tables for Kill Team wasn’t a concern for me. I believe it should be a competitive norm, similar to Warhammer and chess. It levels the playing field and ensures everyone has an equal amount of time. The reception to the clock rules has been positive overall, with players finding the system beneficial. While there are a few things to iron out, like determining when players should start, the feedback has been generally favorable.

LVO’s Best Painted Credit:@conjureworlds

The Open/ITD terrain group split over days 1 and 2 led to some interesting storylines for the players before the day 3 merge. What made you decide to go with this sort of format?

  • We chose the format of splitting the Open/ITD terrain group over days 1 and 2 for the 3-day tournament to give all players a relatively equal opportunity to experience every format. Our goal was to ensure that each player played in at least 3 games of both open and ITD. By merging the groups on day 3, all players had al chance to play each other on all tables, adding a lot of extra excitement.
  • We really wanted this to feel special and have a unique format that is different from any other event. I think we really succeeded in this. (authors note: as a player I agree that this format did feel very cool my thoughts will be on some vlogs soon!)

LVO’s Best Painted Credit:@conjureworlds

It must feel pretty cool to be the US event that finally put a US player into the #1 ITC slot. What are you going to be up to in the meantime? Any events to call out?

  • It’s truly exhilarating to be the US event that secured the #1 ITC slot from Spain! Dethroning Spain became a personal goal for me ever since they came to America and won LVO in 2022. Running the largest event ever has been a crucial part of achieving that goal.
  • I want to give a special shout-out to our narrative campaign, Sector Aterum. While our competitive event has taken the spotlight, our narrative team led by Saya from Tabletop Mayhem organized an amazing campaign. Every player involved had a fantastic time, and we’re thrilled to share that narrative experience with the rest of the community.
  • Looking forward, we’re committed to continuing our podcast and expanding our presence on Youtube (link), and Twitch (link) for more active engagement this year. I’m excited to highlight our fantastic homegrown event, the All Valley Team Tournament (link), a large Kill Team team tournament. With 54 players last year, we’re eagerly anticipating making it even bigger and better this year!

LVO’s champion returned with a dominating run up til his final match of the weekend. With a 7-1-1 record his final loss to Vivek dropped him below the two undefeated players. Orion’s only tie was against Adrian’s Kommandos. His Fellgor were wonderful conversions, and took him right up to the finish line. Fellgor received a big buff in Q42023, and Orion can talk us through how different they feel now!

Orion and Dakotah credit:SquadGames Stream

Orion W, Third, Fellgor Ravagers, Plasma Spam

Congrats on third place! Was there ever a chance you were going to attempt the repeat with Gellerpox after your strong run at Worlds? Or were the conversions just too good to not bring?

  •  As much as I love playing Gellerpox, I really wanted to bring my Fellgors not for competitive reasons, but for the hobby track. They are the only team I made a display board for and the main goal at LVO was to see how my hobby abilities stacked up vs a huge field of creative kill team players, with a build and paint scheme I was proud of.

Orion’s converted Fellgor credit:Orion W

Do you think that Fellgor Ravagers are too strong right now? I know we talked during the weekend about some tentative nerfs, but are they really that busted?

  • Nope, I think they are almost just right, but could use just some minor changes. Most of my wins at LVO I can attribute to some of my opponents not having faced Fellgors more than once or twice, and if those players had more practice I’m not confident I would have had the same run. The team can seem too strong in certain matchups though, so I feel just an adjustment to War Paint is all they need for a tone down.

Fellgor are a team that seem to live and die by their tactical ploys getting your wacky operative rules into the right place at the right time. What was the fanciest trick you combo’d off with this weekend?

  • In the game vs Chris Baachi, TP1 he had forgotten I took infiltrate in scouting, which meant he sent a guardsmen too far forward into my charge range near a concealed mangler. I spent 1 cp for +1 movement (Wild Rage), flipped to engage, used the mangler’s ability to double strike (Tactual Hunter) that guardsmen out of existence, then used Bloodsense to free charge into the Demo guardsmen to tie that up going into tp2. This also scored my faction tac op Relentless Aggression as I got a 5th model into the fray.

What else are you looking forward to competitively in the near future? Perhaps some Night Lords are tickling your brain in the near future?

  • The Night Lords do seem quite tempting, if they have some fun rules to terrorize my opponents I might dabble with them. LVO was my big event to prepare for, with that over I’m looking to start playing on the Bheta-Decima boards and maybe see if Kroot will finally have a good time.

Anything else you want to shout out to our fellow readers?

  • Shout out to my team, Plasma Spam. I had a fantastic showing at LVO, and I couldn’t have done it without their practice and support, but also to Jeremy, who did the unthinkable with Hive Fleet.
  • Biggest thanks to Squad Games and the hard working team behind it, who made all of LVO’s kill team events possible.

A new entrant into the Goonhammer articles, Vivek fought his way tooth and nail to defeat Orion in the final round of the tournament. He and Adrian had a tied record, with his second place coming down to a 2 point deficit on overall scoring. With a 7-0-2 record, and many fellow Canadians cheering him on. His two ties came to Adrian, and Just Another Killteam Podcast’s (link) Jason on Intercession! I’m sure he’s excited to talk about his run, and his region so let’s get to it!

Maple Leaf Wargaming credit:Vivesh

Vivek R, Second, Veteran Guard, Maple Leaf Wargaming

Second place at your first LVO. That’s certainly quite the feat! How does it feel to come out onto the largest Killteam scene and have such a great performance?

  • This is actually my second LVO, I came out last year just to check it out (always wanted to go!). Played in an RTT and KT Champs (I only had about 10~ games of KT played before the event but I love the system), did decent in both and got hooked immediately.
  • It feels amazing, to have gone from picking up the game about a year ago to 2nd place LVO is an achievement I am quite proud of. My placement has only added more fuel to the fire and I’m hoping to keep the momentum going.

With only two ties standing in your way of first place, what happened that got you stuck in those matches? How did an intercession player manage that tie?

  • The first tie against Adrian was the most intense and most fun game I’ve ever played. Adrian is such a fantastic guy to play against, even the tense moments were a blast. The tie came down to a cheeky 3APL grot Grappling Hook that Adrian masterfully set up the previous turning point. It allowed him to cap one of my primaries (grapple, dash, tap) which essentially swung the game into a tie.
  • The intercession game was a bloodbath on both sides, the game swinging play was shoot on death to shoot back at my Sergeant where he slammed 3 crits and a hit with P1. After defense dice were thrown, and even with the rosary, it wasn’t enough to keep him alive. Jason played an extremely tight game that in my opinion showcased how strong elite teams can be in the hands of someone who really knows their team and their match-ups.

Veteran Guard are a team with a bevy of strengths. Which operatives did the heavy lifting on both Open and ITD? Did the LVO specific asymmetric ITD boards bring out new strengths?

  • Sadly I did not get to play on the asymmetric boards, I would have loved to, they are quite zany. It’s hard to pin down a single operative in the orchestra that is vet guard. A lot of the time it’s not the guardsmen that does damage that wins the game but the ones you throw out there to pin, cut off avenues, or hold onto someone’s ankles with In Death Atonement. The demo man is usually the star of the show but in 8/9 games he never got a shot off, he was either a threat that was avoided or a threat that was rapidly annihilated. If I had to pick a single operative that really punched above their weight I would have to go with a regular trooper with a krak grenade. Punches way above his weight and with some cheeky GA2s (especially on ITD) can pull off some amazing things. Second to that, always the sniper, solid damage, can spike high, and is all but guaranteed to do 3 damage to something.

How long have you been playing competitive games? Did you have prior experience competing before this, and if you did, how did those experiences help you pick up kill team?

  • I come from a competitive chess background when I was a kid which has greatly assisted in building a competitive mindset when it comes to tabletop games. I got back into 40K (and then shortly after Kill Team) right around when COVID measures were dropping and things began to open up. Niall and Phil from Maple Leaf Wargaming started an amazing club, I joined up, and it’s been my main outlet for getting games in and meeting new people on the scene (like George, who is squarely to blame for my love of this game).
  • I think my biggest asset when it comes to competition is that I get invested but not emotional. I take every game as an opportunity to learn and improve, a big loss is a big lesson. It never matters who is across the table from me, I always go in assuming they are going to make the best play possible, give up no freebies, make no mistakes. I believe both of those things are echoed across most players who are shooting for the top at big events.
  • I’ve played in a few RTTs, 40K and KT, two large 40K team events (Canhammer and Studs & Snotlings) as well as LVO last year. The two team tournaments were very beneficial with all the moving parts and matchups, last year’s LVO helped me build an understanding of what competitive Kill Team is. I always aim for improvement from event to event, breaking down things that went wrong (specifically, things in your control, sometimes the dice just don’t cooperate) and trying harder the next time. The scene in Ontario (Canada) is expanding and we’re seeing more and more events (we’ll be hosting a bunch ourselves), I’m hoping to get to many more this year!

Are you, and your team, looking forward to hitting up any other global events this year?

  • The year is still young and we’re still planning out our year as a club, for sure we’re going to hit up a couple of the big team events for 40K in Canada. As for Kill Team, we’ll be starting up monthly events for Kill Team very soon, Maple Leaf Wargaming has a fair few KT players already in it and we’re hoping to join our friends out west (Chimera Gaming in Kitchener, the fellas in Hamilton and Newmarket) in having regular events for Kill Team for everyone in the area. We’re going to do our best to make it out to the majors in the NE US. Personally, I’m for sure going to make the time to get out to KillScream III (link) out west and I would love to take a trip out to Spain to play in a major event out there, get a feel for what the scene is like outside of North America. It’s going to be a big and busy year and we’re going to get after it!

Any last shout outs?

  • I’d like to shoutout Niall O’Kane and Phil Galway-Witham for being our fearless leaders and giving me a home to tabletop game at Maple Leaf Wargaming in downtown Toronto, and George Armour for getting me into Kill Team. Not only is he an amazing training partner but a fantastic guy in general. It goes without saying, the rest of the boys, Alex, Reece, Miguel, Will, their support and camaraderie put wind in my sails all weekend. Without all of them, I wouldn’t have been able to pull this off.

Vegas saw the second player to hit Killteam 2021’s #1 worldwide status. With Adrian wrestling it away from Spain at the last minute! He needed to replace 180pt score, and his win from Orion’s loss to Vivek sealed his ascent. Pushing him past Spain’s Ace and securing quite the prize from Games Workshop. Look forward to his vlog from the event being posted on Goonhammer at a later date!

Adrian with his prizes!

Adrian B, First, Ork Kommandos, ITC #1

First off congratulations on taking the #1 spot in the ITC with the season’s final event (Adrian’s LVO performance gave him the edge over Ace in total scoring)! How does it feel to win it at the biggest Kill Team event ever?

  • It feels absolutely surreal!! What a difference a year makes! Last year at LVO was my first competitive event outside of my local NY area. I was running intercession and just starting to come into my own as a player. To return one year later and not only win the largest event Kill Team has ever had, but also clinch the #1 spot in the world in the process, is insane! My goal for 2023 was simply to qualify for the World Championships of Warhammer. I never could have guessed that this would be the culmination of my competitive year.

Do you think that Kommandos are in need of another change after your run this weekend? If you could tone something down, what would it be?

  • In the hands of a skilled pilot, I think they are still oppressive to a number of teams (elves, novitiates, starstriders to name a few). I think the 11th activation or Just a Scratch could be areas to consider if GW was looking to nerf them again. I’d hate to lose the bomb squig as it’s such a flavorful model, but I’m not sure if GA2 would make sense for the two little guys. As for JAS, maybe it could be tuned down to only apply to normal damage, or only be used every other turn, or something along those lines.

Last year you came in third, to Orion’s first. How’s it feel to make a repeat performance with the results flipped in your favor?

  • Again, it feels quite surreal! Orion is an excellent player – and I’m really glad we got to face each other this time around. Our games almost always are decided by the thinnest of margins. In this case, I was able to scrape out a tie vs his Felgor – on the last activation of the last turning point with just a couple of seconds left on my clock!
  • A lot has to happen to win these big tournaments. You need to perform at a peak level, your dice need to be good at key moments, you need certain matchups or maps to be playable for you, and you need other entrants to win or lose (sometimes even by a specific margin) all for one player to rise to the top! In this case, Vivesh and I went to tiebreakers, as our overall records were both 7-0-2, and I won by a mere 2 overall victory points!

What are your thoughts on LVO’s specific terrain? Did you find that it helped or hurt the general strengths of the Kommandos?

  • On open I think it was about average for the Kommandos. It certainly gave plenty of choice for sneaky git – but now that this ploy is limited to one use, it’s not nearly as impactful on the game as before. Kommandos also have a good amount of shooting, and the large amount of heavy terrain prevented that from having as big of an effect (especially via vantage). Most of my games on open were primarily melee focused, and the guns only got shots off when my opponents either decided to allow it, or were already very close to me. The asymmetrical ITD layouts I don’t think changed anything for my gameplay, other than deployment groupings and movement strategy. Overall I enjoyed the asymmetrical ITD a good deal. The open maps I thought were fine (no major issues) – but maybe just a little too dense on the heavy terrain front, and therefore a bit too safe. Although I did not get to play on all layouts over the course of the weekend – only a selection.

Worldwide #1

Are there any new Kill Team products you’re looking forward to over the next year? Big community projects you’re looking to do out in New York?

  • I am looking forward to all the products! Shout out to Games Workshop for hooking me up with all the plastic for a year after securing #1 on ITC! So sick! I am very much ready to take a break from competitive play for a bit, and get back to my roots in Warhammer – building, kitbashing and painting cool models and just having fun! I’m also looking forward to engaging more with the KT community as a whole and helping to shape our NY scene as the newest member of the Brooklyn Rats!

Any other final words for the Goonhammer readers? Shoutouts to your gaming club?

  • Shouts to all the crew in NY & NJ who have made this journey a ton of fun along the way, the friends I’ve made on the road, the Brooklyn Strategist, and to my friends and family for supporting me (even though they have no idea what’s going on in these games!). I’m truly looking forward to the next chapter of this game, and my next chapter as a player. Stay good to each other!

That wraps up our look at LVO but come back next week for more Kill Team content as we head into a new ITC season and a new year of competitive play.

Have any questions or feedback? Drop us a note in the comments below or email us at contact@goonhammer.comAnd if you want regular updates in your inbox, subscribe to our newsletter.